Posts Tagged ‘community rebuilding’

Back in the Bayou

This marks Timberland’s fourth year offering an Earthkeeper service sabbatical through In Good Company – a partnership of businesses joining together to make a difference through hands-on action. This year, we’ve chosen two well-deserving Timberland employees to join the In Good Company team in Venice, Louisiana (one hour south of New Orleans) for a week-long community service experience.

Alan Jones is an account executive for Timberland PRO, based in Texas.  He participated in his first Timberland service event in New Orleans in 2006, following Hurricane Katrina — an experience that, he says, “set in motion my dedication to service and to this company.”

Heather Jackson is an order processing clerk at our distribution center in Danville, KY.  Heather explains how she came to apply for the In Good Company sabbatical:

When I read about this opportunity, I went home that afternoon and talked with my seven-year-old son about why I want to do this and asked him what he thought. He said, “Mom, I want you to go. Go help the ocean.”  I want to share my experience with my son and inspire him to make a difference.

Alan and Heather, along with the rest of their In Good Company companions, will spend this week serving with various nonprofit organizations that are working to clean up and regenerate areas of the bayou impacted by the 2010 oil spill. (Fun fact: two of the three previous In Good Company sabbatical experiences have also taken volunteers to Louisiana; you can read about all of the previous In Good Company sabbaticals here.)

The word for the week is “local” – Heather and Alan will spend their time learning about local activists, experiencing local culture and making local impact. And, they’ll be sharing their experiences with us here on the Bootmakers Blog – stay tuned for their updates.

City Year Service, London Style

Adele, a manager at Timberland’s International Design Center in London, shares the following story about a day of service with City Year London:

What an excellent day at the Peel Institute!

On Wednesday 9th February, City Year joined forces with volunteers from Timberland, Burberry and Wilton and Bain to transform the gardens of the Institute, a community centre which serves the diverse communities of Islington providing opportunities and facilities for education, recreation and the advancement of social, economic and mental wellbeing.

We were welcomed by young leaders, in their bright red, easily distinguished gear ( supplied by TBL), who have worked for City Year from September 2010 so far.  What an inspiration it is, to see young confident people leading and being fully engaged in community service!

City Year service days are a unique opportunity to transform a community site while working with other dedicated volunteers in an enjoyable atmosphere. The ARAMARK civic engagement team are young devoted and energetic corps members whose focus is on staging these events, organising and preparing all projects so volunteers can simply step in and make a difference.

City Year strives to make their service projects inspirational, transformational and sustainable. As such, they work closely with the local community to find what areas need physical change and how to use volunteer muscle to make that a reality.

As a result of recent government cuts, non-essential maintenance of the Peel Institute has had to be stopped, and as a result the gardens had become overgrown and uninviting to the community.  During our day of service, we worked on improving the garden and outdoor space, and prepared an area to be used as a playground in the future.  City Year hopes to continue working with Peel, engaging volunteers to utilise and maintain the general upkeep of the outside space.

Timberland volunteers all enjoyed the experience, and we look forward to working with City Year again!

Making a Difference, In Good Company

Last month, Timberland employees Courtney Baumann and Sandy McDowell joined a team of other corporate volunteers for a week-long community service sabbatical in West Oakland, CA.  We’re pleased to be able to share Courtney’s final reflections and photos from the experience below.

I can’t express how grateful I am to Timberland for choosing me to attend the sabbatical in West Oakland. I was truly moved by the experience. Before I left, I was asked what I hoped to accomplish by going on the “trip,” and I stated that I wanted to add value to humanity, restore my perception of society and overcome challenges. I most definitely accomplished all of these things. I came back with a renewed sense of self and proud of the people I had met and the things we managed to achieve.

Courtney and Sandy

I knew it was going to be a good week, when Thao, one of the Clif Bar peeps who coordinated this whole event, picked me up at the airport. Of course nothing goes to plan, and everyone’s flights ran late — and I mean everyone! But I called when I landed and she burst out laughing, stating that she would be around in a bit, and that she had a funny hat on, which would make it easy to recognize. That cheerful attitude followed us around all week. Although many things did not go to plan, there was never a moment when it seemed Temra or Jennifer (Clif Bar) gave up or got discouraged. They just kept trucking along, making arrangements, and making it work. From rainy weather dampening our mural walk and halting our bike ride, loss of electric power in half of West Oakland, to rearranging our duties to make sure that every day, every project was adequately covered. I was lucky enough to see the City Slickers chicken coop project through from start to finish, and that meant a lot to me. Starting from scratch and then seeing the joy on a little boy’s face as he gets to see a chicken for the first time, just made it all worthwhile.

Chickens!

The entire week was so inspiring. There are so many people out there willing to make a difference, and many people that need our help. Since we’ve returned, City Slickers has received a $4 million grant to buy a parcel of land to aid in more urban farming. This shows how much of an impact a few organizations can have on a community.

Urban farming at its best

Throughout the week, all of the companies participating shared what they are doing to make it better for their employees and the planet. Timberland is not the only one who takes care of their employees and it means that we really might be able to change the world! Attendees included: Clif Bar (the spearhead of In Good Company), Annie’s, Eileen Fisher, States Logistics, Kaia Foods, QBP, Stonyfield Farm, New Belgium Breweries, Seventh Generation, Effects Marketing, and of course, Timberland. Support these companies wherever you can, because they are paving the way for a new way of thinking about the corporate world. They are all producing quality products with the environment in mind. We are part of a community of companies that care about social, environmental, and food justice.

A few final thoughts and observations: I’ve discovered that there are all sorts of foods that I haven’t tried yet, and will probably like.  I never knew I could go on that little sleep and still be happy to wake up in the morning. And my Timberland waterproof jacket and boots really are waterproof. They came in handy more than I ever realized they would.

Courtney




Chicken Coops and Veggie Beds

Below, the latest update from Sandy McDowell and Courtney Baumann, our two Timberland Earthkeepers who have spent this week creating positive social and environmental impact in West Oakland, California:

Today I went to Serenity House — a facility for women recovering from addictions to drug and alcohol.  They were so excited to get a garden.  We put in two raised beds and planted their garden with them.  It was an awesome experience because without our help, they could not have achieved this.  It took awhile for some of the women to warm up but when I left, one woman was so overwhelmed she expressed how grateful she was that we were there to do this for them.  I was really moved that we could really make a difference in their lives.  This is what it’s all about.

-Sandy

* * *

Hello!  I have been working on building chicken coops for the last three days!  On the first day, I thought we would be finished before the day was out, but not the case … :)   We were really involved in the creative aspect of the whole process and allowed to give our input on how to make it better.  I picked the chicken coop project because I felt like this was something that I could take home and possibly do myself — I would love to start something similar at my home.

After finishing today, I was filled with so much pride.  One of the chicken coops we made is going to Makeda and Myron, two community members who have helped with this project all week.  It was really inspiring to see how excited they are to receive it.  They already have a garden in their backyard, aided by City Slicker Farms, and it’s just really great to hear how much it means to them.

This week has really flown by, and we have really accomplished some great things.  We can’t wait to deliver our coops tomorrow!

-Courtney

West Coast Update

Our daily update from Timberland Earthkeeper Sandy McDowell, halfway through her week of community service and revitalization in West Oakland, CA:

Yesterday we installed solar panels on two houses in West Oakland.  The company we worked with is called Grid Alternatives: they supply the solar panels and we install, with their help.  I talked to a neighbor who said it reduced his electric bill to 8 dollars a month!  We will finish that job today, and tomorrow we are building raised garden beds in West Oakland for City Slicker Farms.

I have met some awesome people in the neighborhood who are passionate for a better life.  Can’t wait to share all of those stories.

Sandy

Postcards from California

Timberland Earthkeeper Sandy McDowell sent this short update from her week-long community service sabbatical in West Oakland, CA:

We arrived in California on Saturday and met the rest of our crew.  On Sunday, we did a tour of the California Missions and saw all of the murals that are historic to the area.  We then went to West Oakland and got some history on our project and work for the week ahead.

Today (Monday) was the first day of work.  We weeded and planted in Wildcat Canyon Creek, then moved on to West Oakland and planted bamboo to help with the ecosystem.  Tomorrow we start with City Slicker Farms (a local organization focused on meeting the immediate and basic needs for food security by creating high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens).  Having a awesome experience so far!

Sandy

Keeping Good Company in California

For the third year in a row, Timberland is proud to join forces with “In Good Company,” a coalition of companies dedicated to volunteerism.  As part of the program, candidates  from each of the companies participate in a week-long community service sabbatical in an area of need, working with local residents and nonprofit organizations to create positive impact where and how it is most needed.

For the first two years, In Good Company volunteers left their footprints and their impact in the city of New Orleans.  This year, sabbatical recipients will convene in the San Francisco neighborhood of West Oakland – a neighborhood that suffers disproportionately from asthma, diabetes, obesity and other environment-related issues.  Over the course of their week-long service experience, volunteers will help to create sustainable food solutions, green neighborhood homes and work on environmental restoration issues to make life a little easier for West Oakland residents.

We’re pleased to introduce the two members of Team Timberland who head out to West Oakland this weekend to begin their week-long service sabbatical and will be sharing their experience with us here on the Earthkeepers blog:

Courtney Baumann lives in Austin, TX and has been a sales manager at Timberland’s retail outlet in San Marcos for over seven years. Her passions include working with plants and playing with her pet turtle. Four years ago, Courtney started a recycling program at her mall, which continues to be a success!

Sandy McDowell is a fifteen year Timberland veteran, currently serving as the assistant manager at the Timberland store in Grove City, PA.  An “empty nester,” Sandy and her husband grow organic food and sell it at a low cost to their local community.

We’ll be hearing more from Courtney and Sandy over the course of their week in West Oakland – stay tuned.

Turning Trash into Sustainable Treasure

There are plenty of media reports today about the lack of progress in Haiti … and it’s true that 6 months after the country was rocked by a devastating earthquake, there are still too many people suffering and too many critical needs that continue to be unmet.  But there are also many organizations working hard to help Haitians get back on solid ground and, importantly, prepare for the future.

Earthship Biotecture designs and builds self-sufficient houses that:

  • are constructed using natural and recycled materials (such as cans, bottles and tires),
  • heat and cool themselves naturally via solar and thermal dynamics,
  • collect their own power from the sun and wind,
  • harvest their own water from rain

“Earthships” have been built all over the world – and just a few weeks ago, a small team from Earthship Biotecture traveled to Haiti to start a project there.  What started as a reconnaissance mission turned into full-fledged construction, with the following Earthship built in just four days:

The entire building was constructed from garbage found within a mile of the build site; 40 Haitians from the nearby tent city helped to build the earthquake and hurricane-resistant structure, and learned the skills they’ll need to replicate the construction on their own.

The Earthship Biotecture team will return in October to integrate Earthship systems into the structure (water harvesting, solar / wind power, heating and cooling, etc.).

To learn more about the good work Earthship Biotecture is doing, both in Haiti and in other parts for the world, please visit their website.

A Textbook Example of Commerce and Justice

I walked off Bryant University’s commencement stage in May of 2009 with a diploma in hand, a wealth of fundamental marketing knowledge and an internship getting my feet wet in the boot business. Like every graduating senior, I thought I knew exactly what to expect from the “real world.” I’d read the textbooks (or at least the chapter summaries), listened closely to my professors and tried to soak up as much knowledge as I could. Excited to start my career, I hoped that my internship at Timberland would put those fundamentals to the test.

Once I got into the swing of it, working in corporate America wasn’t all that bad. My college education had given me a good start and for the most part, I found that this “real world” was fairly controlled. But in January of 2010, that sense of control seemed to vanish.

As a true millennial, I don’t read the newspaper, so I first heard about the earthquake in Haiti through social means, followed by a Google search. The boot makers I worked with were passionate about helping Haiti, and we had committed to reforestation projects there just months earlier. Word of the earthquake spread fast around Timberland headquarters and, naturally, rumors started swirling. But one outstanding question left me profoundly worried: did the Haitian artists that designed the artwork for our Yéle Haiti t-shirts perish during the disaster?

The “Five Musketeers” — FOSAJ artists that designed the artwork for Timberland’s Yéle Haiti t-shirts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Painting, Progress and Puppies

This is the final update from Timberland Earthkeeper Lynn Woodrum, who spent last week lending her time and energy to rebuilding efforts in New Orleans.  Our thanks to Lynn, and fellow Earthkeeper MacKenzie Mosca, for sharing their experience with us .

Friday, November 13

The day started well with our team getting a lot of our house project completed. With the inside mostly finished, it was time to give the outside a new coat of sea green paint. The house really came a long way from Monday, with only one room we didn’t finish – the handicap-accessible bathroom which professionals need to do.

All week a little puppy had visited us at the house site, she was so cute. The owner came over on Friday and offered to give the puppy to an electrician (Steve) who worked with all of us and the Rebuilding Together group. Needless to say it was a tearful moment… he named his new puppy Holly, as the house is located on Hollygrove St.

About 12:30 we wrapped up the day and said our goodbyes to the Rebuilding Together employees and to Ms. Alice (the new home owner) and her family. Another tearful moment.  Then we went back to the garden project and what a sight it was!  The last time I was there was on Monday, and it looked so different. A walkway had been added, more fruit trees, a trench dug, and the privacy fence started. It was just beautiful!

I feel like I walked away with many new lifelong friends and helped to rebuild a community. I think that In Good Company gave back hope to many families by just being there; showing people that there are others out there willing to get dirty, and help others. My week in New Orleans showed me how much I have, and how important family is to me. If there is ever a chance to help again, I hope that more people will get involved and experience this opportunity!

- Lynn Woodrum